Loneliness: Is it a health issue?

Some adults yearn to end their lives despite being in good health. The critical issues identified in such people were: aching loneliness, pain associated with not mattering, struggles with self-expression, existential tiredness, and fear of being reduced to an entirely dependent state. Will our healthcare system accept loneliness as a serious health issue?

More than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling left out, poorly understood, and lacking companionship, according to a new survey released Thursday. Workplace culture and conditions may contribute to Americans’ loneliness.

The American novelist Philip Roth wrote that “old age is not a battle, old age is a massacre”. If we live long enough, we can lose our identity, physical capabilities, partner, friends and careers.

Some surveys reveal that around 60 percent of people in the U.S. right now report feeling lonely regularly. And that’s pretty devastating from a public health perspective. This is worse than rates of obesity.

This need not be the consequence of a lifetime of suffering or a response to intolerable physical pain. The tiredness of life also arises in people who consider themselves to have lived fulfilling lives. One man of 92 told the network’s researchers: “You do not affect anything. The ship sets sail, and everyone has a job, but you sail along. I am cargo to them. That’s not easy. That’s not me. Humiliation is too strong a word, but it is bordering on it. I feel ignored, completely marginalized.”

Spending time with family and friends not only gives us a positive psychological boost, it can also reduce dementia risks and improve longevity, a new study reports. Researchers found those with strong social connections have a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and death. The study reports that improving social connections and frequently spending time with others positively impacts health and cognition.

Study participants showed that good social connections were associated with a lower risk of MCI, dementia, and death.

“We found that frequent monthly or weekly interactions with family and friends and having someone to talk to reduced the risk of getting dementia. We also found that living with others and doing community activities reduced the risk of dying,

 Researchers recommend that we prioritize social connection to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and live longer.

“Try to meet with friends and family at least once a month, take part in community activities like volunteering or a rotary club, and open your heart to someone when you feel stressed. Living with others, for example in an intergenerational household, is also helpful,” Dr. Samtani said.

Connecting with others helps us to keep our bodies and minds healthy.